Some days ago, I stumbled on a twitter thread about pharmacists and never finding a rude pharmacist. Despite the overwhelming support, something worried me immensely as I scrolled through tweets from young people from across Africa.
A good chunk of respondents- many of them women, agreed with the initial tweet but added a troubling rider- pharmacists are judgmental when they come to get contraceptives and morning after pills. While I am not the mouthpiece of pharmacists around the world, I can say without fear of contradiction that this is not true.
The implication of this thought process bothers me, many sexually active women already have a hard time convincing their partners to use the easiest method of protection- the condom. Yet, these women still leave the purchase of this contraceptive in the hands of people who do not want to use It in the first place and many joyful accidental discharges occur.
Even in a hyper-critical, hypocritical society like we find in the towns, cities and villages of Nigeria, the sexually active woman owes herself the duty to protect herself from Sexually Transmitted Infections and unplanned pregnancies by using the tools available. For the life of me, I can’t understand why women carry the burden of shame when they want to get protection. The average Nigerian man would walk into the store and buy his condoms and even engage sales staff on his choice(s) to be sure he gets the best for himself, while the woman he is going to use it with, is too shy to even look at condoms on the shelf?
Sadly, she is the one with the most to lose. Very few things are as terrifying as counting the days after Lady Flo delays her monthly visit or the horror of finding two lines on a urine soaked strip. So why let nonexistent judgement stand in the way of peace of mind? Terminating a pregnancy is still illegal in Nigeria and even if it weren’t, the process is not soaking garri in cold water with peak milk, sugar and groundnut.
I have had hundreds (yes hundreds) of terrified young women approach me with long stories that end with ‘I missed my period and I want to get it back’. Most of the time they are alone, carrying their burden while Bobo goes on with his life with some quiet concern about the whole thing- if she is lucky, she is more likely to be told to ‘carry your cross’. The babe would wander far in search of a solution and will end up spending at least ten times the cost of contraception on a termination. Let’s not even go into the dangers that can arise even when a professional is involved. Is the almost non-existent shame and a little (often imaginary) gossip worth the cost of it all; in money, time and mental well-being?
Anyway, anyone who sells/provides contraceptives would not think it is extraordinary that a woman wants to protect herself, emergency contraception (morning after pill) are fast moving drugs which an average pharmacy can sell at least two packs a day, while other contraceptives sell even faster. In one month, there would be at least a hundred purchases of all kinds of contraception per pharmacy/supermarket. Your purchase is not special, it’s not memorable, it’s not unusual, not even if you are the holiest Mary Nweje.
So dear sister, ain’t nobody got any interest in judging you. Nobody is smirking because you’re getting contraceptives, and if they are… So fucking what?